Granada. 100 Points if it goes by the name. The Spaniards simply have a knack for melodic names. Since we had little idea what to expect in Granada before our trip, we were all the more excited about the Andalusian city.
So much in advance: Not even the drizzle and the gray weather could match our enthusiasm to wear something! How in Granada oriental influences characterize the attitude to life is unprecedented. It finally happened to us when we witnessed one of the most beautiful sights in the world: the Alhambra. We were rarely as amazed as in the three hours of our visit.
In this blog article we will tell you what you should not miss on a city trip to Granada. We will also show you the most beautiful sights and tell you what Granada’s tapas culture is all about. By the way: We also made a video of our road trip through Andalusia, which you can find at the end of the article.
1. The center of Granada: Highlights & Sights Granada has a very nice city center, which – as expected – has too many souvenir shops, but we still liked it very quickly. The Arabic influences cannot be denied: Moroccan tiles and Arabic lamps kept reminding us how close Morocco is.
The Cathedral of Granada & the Capilla Real In the center of Granada, wedged between nearby house fronts, stands the imposing Renaissance Cathedral Granadas (Santa María de la Encarnación de Granada). After the Alhambra, the Cathedral is the most important monument in Granada. With its unusual height, the cathedral is also very impressive from the inside and definitely ranks in the list of the most beautiful churches we have ever seen.
The Entrance fee is not free though. After all, you have to shell out 5 euros per person. An audio guide is included. Tip: If you reserve in advance, you have every Sunday between 15 and 18: 25 free entry.
Directly adjacent to the cathedral is the King’s Chapel, the so-called Capilla Real. Here are the mortal remains of many Spanish kings. Access to the Capilla Real is not through the Cathedral, but through Calle Oficios. Admission costs 5 euros here as well. Tip: In the Capilla Real you have every Wednesday between 17: 30 and 18: 30 Free admission if reserved in advance.
La Madraza de Granada – the former Moorish University The Madraza is the former Islamic University of Granada and is located only a stone’s throw from the Cathedral. If our trip to Morocco has taught us anything, it is that you shouldn’t walk past (former) universities without taking a look inside.
From the outside, the Madraza is unimpressive, but behind The walls hide architectural highlights. In fact, you only see very few rooms on a tour of the Madraza, but we were very enthusiastic about them. Be sure to take a little time and let the elaborate reliefs work their magic on you. Admission costs just 2 euros.
La Alcaicería Marrakech or Granada? When you enter the former Arab silk market, you’re not so sure where you are actually for a moment. La Alcaicería is now clearly geared towards tourists and is not a big highlight in Granada, but a short stopover is definitely worth it. In the lively streets you will find a lot of souvenir shops with oriental lamps and other accessories.
2. The Alhambra: Granada’s most important sight The word “Alhambra” is mentioned in the same breath as Granada. The Alhambra belongs to Granada like the Eiffel Tower to Paris and there is hardly anyone who leaves the city without having been there. It is considered to be the most beautiful monument of Moorish architecture and is also the most visited attraction in Spain.
The Alhambra is a huge architectural complex that can be overwhelming at first glance. The main buildings you can visit are:
The Nasrid Palaces: They are the heart of the Alhambra, so to speak. The Alcazaba: The ramparts which is the former defensive system and the oldest part of the Alhambra. The Palace of Charles V: It resembles an arena and is quite a break in style to the rest of the Alhambra. The Generalife: The beautiful Summer Palace, which is a bit apart from the rest of the buildings.
Alhambra: Tickets & Guided Tours You should definitely (!) arrange tickets in advance, because pro Day will only be about 7.000 till 8.000 Visitors allowed. As a result, tickets for the Alhambra are often fully booked weeks in advance.
A word of warning: buying tickets for the Alhambra is quite opaque, because there are not only a confusing number of options, but above all a lot of different websites where you can buy tickets. In addition, the Nasrid Palaces, for example, are not included in all ticket options. We have listed what we consider to be the most important variants and our recommendation below.
Option 1: Private Guide (Our recommendation) Anyone who knows us knows that we really seldom advise, but in the Alhambra we can offer you a private guided tour ) recommend. You have to imagine it like this: The area of the Alhambra is big. Very large! You really don’t know where to go first. And: The Alhambra is pretty crowded. School classes and tour bus groups are bustling about everywhere.
Well, and then our private guide Pedro came and brought order to the chaos. He knows the Alhambra inside out and knew exactly where to go and when to avoid the crowds. We honestly have never before (and never since) enjoyed a three-hour tour like this. Enough of the hymn of praise, just write to him and send him our very best regards. Another plus point: Pedro speaks perfect German.
Option 2: Group tour If a private tour is too expensive for you, you can also take part in a group tour . If you want to book such a tour, we can recommend the GetYourGuide website. The advantage: You can often get tickets at shorter notice than, for example, via the official website, where you can “only” purchase the standard tickets (more on that in a moment).
Here you can buy the tickets in advance: Guided tour: Alhambra, Generalife & Nasrid Palaces.
Option 3: Single Entry Ticket (“Alhambra General”) The standard ticket entitles you to entry to all the main buildings and gardens in the Alhambra in one day. The downside is that you don’t get a guided tour with this ticket. In addition, these comparatively cheap tickets are usually fully booked weeks in advance! When booking, you must already indicate what time you want to visit the Nasrid Palaces.
You can buy the ticket here on the official website: Alhambra General Ticket
Option 4: Night Tour Most visitors come during the day, but a special experience has to be Tour at night when the Alhambra and Gardens are illuminated. An evening tour is a good alternative, especially in the hot summer months, when the sun is beating down during the day and the temperatures are unbearable.
You can do such a night tour here book: Alhambra & Nasrid Palaces: Night Tour
Alhambra: More Tips How do I get to the Alhambra? – Tips on how to get there You can visit the Alhambra both on foot as well as by car or by bus. We walked ourselves. Since the Alhambra is on a hill, the way there is relatively steep and it takes a little more time. From the center (Plaza Nueva) you can reach the Alhambra on foot in about 26 Minutes.
Alternatively, the bus (bus line C3) runs approx. every 5 to 10 minutes to right in front of the main entrance of the Alhambra (stop Taquillas-Generalife; price 1,20 Euro). If you come with your own car, you can park in the associated paid parking lot.
What is the best time to visit and travel to the Alhambra? The Alhambra is the most visited monument in Spain. So you should be aware that you never have the most important places in the Alhambra completely to yourself. In general, the earlier in the day you visit the Alhambra and the further outside of the main travel season you come to Granada, the fewer people are out and about.
We ourselves were in Granada at the beginning of November and started our tour around 10 Watch. Even in November (and with modest weather) there were still an incredible number of people on the grounds of the Alhambra. Since we visited the Alhambra with a experienced guide , we were able to avoid the crowds to a large extent. We have linked the e-mail address of our (highly recommended) guide above.
Finally, another tip: No matter which ticket type you choose – take it for your visit of the Alhambra . enough time. We were there for a good three hours and found it very short. We can well understand that there are people who stay here for a whole day.
3. Neighborhood Albaicín One of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Granada is the Albaicín (often called written Albaycín). It is the oldest and most original part of Granada and is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You definitely shouldn’t leave Granada without taking a stroll through Albaicín.
Albaicín is a picture-postcard neighborhood. It is known for its picturesque streets and white houses . Although the Albaicín is Granada’s old town, there are far fewer people on the move than in the tourist center around the cathedral. Albaicín is situated on a hill. Therefore you have a wonderful view of the Alhambra from some places.
At sunset, many people are drawn to the Mirador de San Nicolás, probably the most famous viewpoint Granada’s. There is a lot going on there, but the view of the Alhambra is really impressive. By the way, don’t be surprised by the sometimes crazy lighting mood in our pictures. In the afternoon/evening of our visit there was a doomsday mood in Granada, for which we were then rewarded with the most magnificent sunset over the Alhambra.
4. The story of the tapas in Granada One thing we quickly learned to love about Granada is this Tapas culture of the city. And it looks like this: if you go out for a drink in Granada, you get a free tapas dish with the drink. You can’t choose the dish, you get what the head of the house thinks is right. With the next drink you get another dish and with the next one another. So you can get full pretty quickly without paying for the food. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
You can of course discover Granada’s tapas bars on your own or you can choose one of the Tapas tours of the city. We went with Garnata Tours: The selection of bars was great and we also learned a lot of exciting details about Spanish cuisine.
Here you can find the tour that we did, book: Guided tapas tour
5. A little insider tip: visit a traditional hammam We have already let it sound that oriental influences characterize daily life in Granada. That’s why you’ll find something in Granada that you wouldn’t expect at first: hammams. The weather was modest during our stay anyway, so a visit to the hammam came in handy.
The Hammam Al Ándalus comes up to the idea of the pretty close to the perfect, oriental hammam: beautiful mosaic tiles, dim candlelight and a Moroccan interior. When entering the bathing facilities we were immediately deeply relaxed.
Worth knowing before a visit to the hammam A bath session lasts 90 minutes and starts and ends at the same time for everyone present. Men and women bathe together – only the changing rooms are separate. You wear swimwear (bikini or bathing suit or swim shorts). Within the 90 Minutes you can freely decide in which pools you want to stay.
There are pools with different temperatures and also a relaxation room where you can drink fresh mint tea. If you have also booked a massage, the masseur will pick you up during the 90 minutes and leads you to the massage table.
After a short period of getting used to, we found the visit to the hammam incredibly relaxing and would come back anytime. The only thing that bothered us was that some of the employees were reserved and unfriendly. We would have liked a better explanation from the ladies at reception. Especially when you are in a hammam for the first time, the process is definitely not self-evident.
You can reserve a visit to the Hammam Al Ándalus here: Hammam Visit
Transparency: Invitation We were invited to Andalusia by Granada Tourism and Spain Tourism – thank you very much! This cooperation has no influence on our opinion. 2016
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Are you also planning a city trip to Granada and do you have any questions? Or have you already been to Granada and still have tips? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!2018